A (Late) Story for Mother’s Day, and Why I’ve Been on a Hiatus

Hello friends, I’m pleased to be writing something for you again, and hello to new folks too!

For those of you who have been regular readers, you can tell that this has been the first post in a while, and that’s because I ran out of juice and couldn’t finish the Knop story for you. I’m very sorry about that, but hopefully the content to come will serve for a better purpose. I’ve also been considering what to write about instead and getting my real life moving along nicely in the meantime. I hope you’ve all been having some meaningful times as well.

I’m going to tell you a true story about myself today. Actually, the heroine in the story is my mom, and my dad has a part in it too. Everywhere people have been celebrating Mother’s Day, and so I thought, “Why not share here today what my parents have done for me?” What they’ve done means a whole bunch personally. They’ve been instruments of grace in a big way.

* * * * * * * * * *

Many years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence noticed something odd about their second baby. She never laughed much and she didn’t like to talk either. She was solitary and liked to play with the same toys all the time, finding them to be more interesting than her older sister and younger brother. They thought it was just a part of her personality. But others disagreed.

One of my dad’s aunts was fond of psychology and she noted to her sister (my grandmother) that my behaviors likely had a name. They told Mom and Dad about it.

My parents acknowledged that my behaviors were in line with the condition described. However, they chose to neither take me in for diagnosis nor give me special treatment because they believed that the instructions from God’s Word and their own parental guidance were together enough to help me lead a normal life.

They thus decided to treat me like they would treat all of their children. In the end, their belief was that I would be able to function well and to be socially active and have diverse interests, and so they disciplined and guided me toward that direction. All the while, they never told me what my great-aunt thought. For fifteen years, I never knew that the way I preferred to behave had a name in the world.

I did know that I wasn’t like other people. I was sensitive about many types of noise, afraid of strangers, afraid of failure, uncomfortable being away from home for long, distracted by the most insignificant things, uncaring about my physical appearance, content with never changing, and obsessed with stuffed monkeys and doodling on paper. My life wasn’t very full and it was far from being adventurous, but, for some reason, I liked it being that way.

But Mom and Dad, instead of sheltering me or telling me that I couldn’t handle certain things, took me to concerts (Mom being a violinist), helped me to make friends at church and in the neighborhood, and homeschooled me with the same expectations that they had for the rest of the family. They treated my distractions like disobedience, necessarily brushed the snarls out of my hair, helped me put away the monkeys, and encouraged me to mature in my drawing. They also did the most important thing of all, and that was to tell me the gospel of Jesus Christ, which has encompassed in it that we don’t deserve any good thing in this world, let alone a place in heaven with God. Every good thing is only because of His grace, and salvation is only because of His Son.

It took me a long time to drop a lot of the useless things that they were training me to grow beyond. Sometimes hard things had to happen for me to realize that I couldn’t keep on living in the way I did. Sometimes I was upset that my parents would “invade” my life as they did, but deep down inside I knew that it was for the best. The world was bigger than my own mind, and yet it was not as terrifying as I imagined it to be. That was what they were wanting me to know.

When I was thirteen, I first heard the word “autism”. It was while watching the movie about Temple Grandin. I couldn’t help but love the lady because she reminded me so much of myself. But I was ashamed to approach my parents and ask whether she and I were the same while all this time they had been encouraging me to instead be a normal person and had never brought up the subject. “Different, not less,” Temple had often said, but when my parents’ were encouraging me to overcome some of the differences that she and I shared, then those differences seemed to me to be less. I was impressed, however, at her persistent and ingenious hard work, because I had never done such a thing in my life.

One or two years later, I found a book about something more personally relevant called Asperger’s Syndrome. Each page had a small description of how this one man diagnosed with it lived. While reading, I felt like I was paying a visit with a mirror that showed me who I used to be and how I still lived but in a less extreme manner, being not as self-obsessed as before.

Oh, but it was so easy to start being self-obsessed again, to take up gallons of time just wondering if this was how I was to identify myself. When at one point the world wasn’t seeming to give anything good to me, I retreated into this world of baseless introspection. Thankfully, Mom stepped in and began to help me out again. Even if it was true that the world would give me such a name, I had been taught all my life that I could overcome my weaknesses and not be bound by the world’s label or definition of who I was. I can be defined by Christ, not by Asperger’s, in both name and action.

I have found that the more introspective I get, the more fearful, awkward, sensitive, and careless about my appearance I become. But when I’m busy thinking about how to be there for another person, these traits disappear, and I find that I enjoy others and they enjoy me. I have been blessed with the ability to initiate friendships. I used to think such a thing was impossible for me to do. I have many brothers and sisters who call for my attention even louder than my feelings do. It is interesting to learn things outside of my comfort zone, and it is okay if I don’t do something right the first time. My calling is sweeter than to just get what I want. God is my reward if I do what He says, and that’s more than I deserve.

I wonder these days that if other children were taught that the world didn’t revolve around them but around others and God, we would see less autism diagnoses and more individuals happy to pay attention to the interests of others and serve them. It is just a theory, but I plan to do some research. In any case, my parents blessed me when I was young, even though it was painful, by expanding my horizons. I have both them and God to thank every day and not just on special occasions.

And that’s my happy story.

Titus 2:11-14 

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Titus%202:11-14&version=NASB

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